Sorry you haven’t heard from me recently! This week has been a difficult one for my family, and I spent this weekend at a funeral. But I’m back, and I’m excited to share my own Kindness Matters Monday story with you.
I glanced at the time as I hurried through the parking lot and into a large department store. “Okay, it’s 9:15. I have to go to two … no, three … stores, and I need to be done by 10:55. So okay, I need to be in and out of here in 20 minutes. Well, less if I can …”
And then, in slow motion, I felt myself slip. With my usual effortless grace and class … I flailed my arms in a desperate attempt to stay upright.
As I peeled myself off the ground, ankle and knee throbbing, I envisioned what THAT must have looked like on the security camera. I picked myself up, brushed off my knees, gingerly patted my bruised pride, and began muttering in my mind. “Oh, great. THAT’S just what I need. One more thing to slow me down today. AWESOME.”
I (carefully) hurried through my shopping and found a checkout lane with only one person ahead of me. As he was checking out, I got my coupons out. And suddenly, I had a feeling. “Share your coupon with him.” I looked down and realized that my 20% coupon could be used repeatedly, by more than one person. I was about to offer it to him when the cheerful cashier asked, “Wow, you got some great deals! Enjoying the clearance racks today?”
He paused, then said, “No. Not really.”
I instantly changed my mind. If he was embarrassed to talk about shopping off of the clearance rack, I decided he might feel awkward about a stranger offering him a coupon. So I stood while the cashier rang up his large pile of clothing, chattering away (with him responding politely but very quietly). As she announced the total – well over $200 – the feeling came again. “Share your coupon with him.” I’ve learned to listen when thoughts come to me with that much clarity.
Awkwardly, I said, “Um … excuse me, I have a coupon and it can be used more than once.” I looked at the cashier. “Can he use this too?”
He looked surprised but appreciative. She scanned the coupon, and $45 came off the total. He turned and looked at me and simply said, “Thank you.” Then, after a thoughtful pause, came the words that knocked the breath out of me.
“Today is my father’s funeral.”
The large pile of clothes – suit, shoes, tie, socks. The serious look on his face. The fact that he was not, in fact, “enjoying the clearance racks today”.
In that moment, I looked into a stranger’s sad eyes, and my heart broke for him.
Friends. I don’t share this story with you because I did anything amazing that day. I actually did very little. I want to share this story to help you realize something. You may feel like you can do very little right now to make a difference in anyone’s life.
But your little bit? It’s enough.
My small gesture – sharing a coupon – touched this man’s heart. Throbbing knee forgotten, I spoke to him for a few minutes. He shared a bit of his story with me. I wished him luck, and he went on his way. But my tiny act of kindness … I think it made a difference. It touched him in a way that the cashier’s friendly chatter did not. It allowed him to take his guard down for a moment and to open his heart to a stranger.
It was enough.
And one short week later, I was standing in the airport, tears in my eyes. I was on the way to a funeral of my own, and my heart was aching. I had no appetite but knew I needed to eat, so I stopped by McDonalds. There I was greeted by a happy, friendly cashier. His upbeat smile – the kind look in his eyes – it wasn’t much. But to me – someone who was falling apart – it was enough.
It gave me the courage to lift my head, smile, and get on the airplane.
And these past few days, I have been surrounded by, engulfed in, and buoyed up by kindness. None of the acts of kindness have been huge. But the kind smile of the cashier, the man who put my carryon bag in the overhead bin, the hugs of my family, the encouragement of my friends, the prayers of the people who love me the most …
It is enough.
Friends, as you go forward today … as you head to work and drive to soccer and wipe noses and make copies and do whatever it is you’ll be doing today … choose kindness. Choose a smile. Choose to say an encouraging word. Choose a genuine compliment. Decide that in your little corner of the world, you will choose kindness.
You might not be able to do much.
But please believe me.
It will be enough.
If you have your own Kindness Matters Monday story to share, I’d love to hear it! I’m happy to include a short bio and/or a link to your blog or website. Please e-mail me at [email protected] Thank you!